(Here he is, main character George Valentin, doing what else? but watching old movies of himself, in the crumpled suit he’ll wear throughout three quarters of the movie. Why? He’s depressed…and can’t seem to get his life back on track. )
I was struck dumb—by the movie. That’s right—speechless. We’d gone to our first in a long while—“The Artist.” Outside the theatre I had a choice—“The Descendants,” starring perennial favorite (not mine—but the movie industry’s) George Clooney or the above-mentioned film. I chose “The Artist,” saying “This decision’s easy—It took “Best Picture” and “Best Actor.”
You see, I intend to see all of the much-touted films, and since we’ve only seen “The Help” and “War Horse,” we’ll be going often in the next month or two.
I came out of the theater, totally stunned, for I felt the story line simplistic (not that I need complex), and the main character, George Valentin (played by French actor, Jean Dujardin), a colossal bore. I mean, Valentin’s character was based on an actor who soared to the top of silent filmdom but then fell dramatically, when the “talkies” came about.
But, if I’m honest, 30 minutes into the silent genre, I was done with the novelty; I wanted sound.
The story defied reason, in my estimation, for Valentin appeared carefree and debonair, despite the fact he was married to a woman whose sole preoccupation was penciling in moustaches on likenesses of her husband, on posters..on magazines…everywhere.
Oh, at times, we caught a deeper glimpse of their marital dysfunction, but for the most part, he held to his obligations (else why did he refrain from answering new actress Peppy’s invitation for more?)
But then his world crashed. He was according to the producer/director character, “All washed up…a has-been.” His wife kicked him out; he drank profusely; they auctioned off his possessions ( Peppy’s agent secretly purchased them); and in a despondent moment, he set fire to his apartment, almost causing his own death.
On another occasion, he cut himself.
Wow! All that because he couldn’t regroup from that fall after his glorious rise. That’s when he began to bore me—seriously. How did I react?
Well, when he took out the pistol that he kept in the burnt-out apartment, and positioned it inside his mouth, I actually felt an inclination to help him do the deed (in a figurative sense), putting an end to my own misery. I was that fed up with him.
No, I found Jean Dujardin’s character self-indulgent, spoiled, and overly-prideful, little worth the effort of his three most ardent fans—his chauffeur, the woman who loved him from afar, Peppy, and his amazing little dog, that Jack Russell terrier.
And certainly not worth my effort.
“The Artist” certainly is that.
Finally, I’m flummoxed by another thing (Don’t you love that word?): Why didn’t Uggie, the adorable, little wire-haired terrier who got everyone’s tongues wagging, get an award, for he was the real genius of the film?
And if not the dog, at least the trainer. After all, that person taught Uggie to bow (with his little head tucked down, as if in shame or fear for the consequences), dance on two legs, go for help in the fire, and lie down as if shot…all serious testaments to training.
I don’t get it. Best-in-Show awards are assigned at the Westminster Dog Show, where the dogs just strut about on leashes, and there’s no acting involved.
But here, when real doggie talent is demonstrated, there’s no award.
***Now, learn a bit more about little Uggie, who, at one time, was almost headed for the pound, yet at last minute, he was taken in by owner/trainer Omar Von Mullen. The rest is Oscar history.
No, Uggie and his trainer should have had Oscars. But then again, that would have made sense, and as I said, I don’t believe the Academy doles out awards based on that.
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